State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) tapped into her biochemistry expertise on Friday as she toured the CSI Behring Plasma Donation Center in Melrose Park and learned about how this local business works with local residents to become the life force of a multi-step bio-therapeutic process that saves lives.
Patients who suffer from rare critical diseases depend heavily on donor plasma to stay alive. Plasma collected at the CSI center is transported to a larger facility in downstate Kankakee, where it is transformed into life-saving treatments for individuals living with blood coagulation disorders like hemophilia, immune deficiencies and many other diseases and disorders. The products are also used during cardiac surgeries, organ transplantation and other major surgeries; the company has developed a new innovative treatment product that is heading into FDA clinical trials.
According to Jesus Castillo, Associate Director of Operations & Quality at CSL Plasma, the Melrose Park collection center operates anywhere between 40 and 60 beds regularly, seven days per week. The facility was busy on the Friday afternoon while Mazzochi was visiting. “It is a fascinating process that all begins with caring community members who donate their plasma,” said Mazzochi. “These donors are the foundation for literally giving life and hope to people nationwide needing treatment.”
In addition to Castillo, Mazzochi spoke with John Conrad, President and CEO of the Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Roy Pura from CSI Behring Government Affairs, and others about the center’s successes and challenges. “The need for plasma is growing, so this is an area where we should really be helping current businesses grow and expand here rather than moving operations to other states.” Mazzochi said.
Mazzochi emphasized that the life sciences field has been rapidly expanding, and that the global personalized medicine market alone is forecast to reach $2.4 trillion by 2022. “Other states such as North Carolina and Texas; and cities such as Boston and New York have recognized the opportunity for growth in this field, and are doing all they can to support start up and established businesses alike for the jobs and benefits they bring. Illinois, in the nation’s heartland; with two national laboratories in DuPage County; multiple companies innovating in this field; and with a highly skilled workforce, should be a life sciences national leader.”
Mazzochi reiterated that “other states are rolling out the red carpet for these types of businesses, and tailoring college programs to well-paying jobs, while Illinois continues to require overly-burdensome regulations and red tape. There are clear areas for improvement to do better.”
CSL Plasma, headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, is a division of CSL Behring, a plasma protein biotherapies company headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The Melrose Park collection center is one of eight CSL Plasma Centers in Illinois.